The Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archives Collection—An Archivist’s Perspective

Brendan Morris, the Herbert and Trudl Zipper Collection archivist, shares an update on his progress and some highlights from early findings.

For almost a year, I have had the pleasure of working on the Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archival Collection. The collection arrived in a state of mild organization but has since gone through extensive archival processing: surveying, arranging, describing, and preserving the collection. During my initial survey of the collection, I discovered incredible artifact after incredible artifact: a 1920s newspaper clippings featuring glowing reviews of a teenage Trudl Dubsky’s performance with the Bodenwieser Dance Group, a telegram from Leonard Bernstein wishing Zipper “all the best” on opening night of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (which Zipper revived), and a 1953 cassette tape containing a Zipper conducted Manila Symphony Orchestra performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica,” just to name a few. As of now, the collection has largely been arranged in an order that respects how Zipper had it organized and in a way that will make the collection accessible to interested researchers. The collection has also been stabilized through preservation activities like removing rusty staples, placing photographs in protective sleeves, and rehousing materials in acid-free folders and boxes. Another preservation tactic that doubles to foster access is digitization. Early in the project, I acquired a fantastic scanner to digitally preserve select papers, photographs, concert programs, newspaper clippings, etc.

I have also enlisted the USC Digital Library to help me digitize materials I am unable to digitize myself, including fragile scrapbooks, music manuscripts, concert posters, and cassette tapes. Just this past week, I received an email from USC’s Digital Library containing a file made from the lone film reel in the collection. Due to the physical condition of the reel, I was unable to discern the content before sending it off for digitization, so I downloaded the file with much anticipation. The payoff was more than I could have hoped for, the reel contained a 1954 film of Zipper conducting the Manila Symphony Orchestra for local school children. Zipper was known for school concerts he conducted in Brooklyn, Manila, Chicago, and Los Angeles. To have footage of him from the 1950s conducting a school concert is quite the find. It is moments like these that make my work extremely gratifying.

While my work is not done, it has progressed well, and I look forward to sharing more of the collection as the project progresses. If you have not wandered past the library recently, you can view an exhibit featuring materials from the collection about a famous Manila Symphony Orchestra performance conducted by Herbert Zipper following the liberation of Manila in 1945. The exhibit was curated by the fantastic UCLA graduate school intern, Chris Miehl, who helped me process and digitize the collection. For now, please enjoy the materials you see here from the extraordinary lives of the Zippers.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the generous support of Ann Moore.

Learn more about the Herbert and Trudl Zipper Archives Collection

  • Letter from Herbert Zipper to Mother from Dachau (1938)
  • Original Manuscript of “Dachau Lied” (1938)
  • Scrapbook Page Featuring Materials from Trudl Dubsky’s Career with Bodenwieser Group (1930)
  • Herbert Zipper Instructing a Member of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (1949)
  • “Paco” a Watercolor by Trudl Dubsky Zipper (1945)